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January 29, 2015 / 9 Shevat, 5775
 
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It’s My Opinion: Use it Wisely

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A dreadful local incident has made national and even international news. A South Miami man finally obtained the attention that he so feverishly sought. The event has caused shock waves and led to a serious examination of the phenomenon of social media.

Derek Medina was a prolific contributor to Facebook. He detailed his various comings and goings. He chronicled his life in 143 YouTube videos. He authored numerous self-published books. The books didn’t sell. His activities seemed hum-ho. His efforts were received with indifference.

Medina is now in the spotlight that he apparently craved. He posted a disclosure on his Facebook page in which he admitted killing his wife. He also posted a photo. It showed her twisted, bloody corpse. Medina is not the first to post a confession on Facebook. His photo, however, put him over the edge. Medina is now a household name. He is known as the Facebook Killer. Derek Medina has gone viral.

Who or what is to blame for this horrific event? Is Derek Medina a narcissistic anomaly or is the social media site, which maintains over 750 million worldwide users, a magnet for the type of twisted personality that demands an audience?

Facebook, social media and computers are simply tools. They can be used for good or bad. They can be an incredible source of information, learning and enlightenment. They can also be an incredible waste of time and a means for nefarious pursuits.

There are sites that are extremely helpful and there are sites that are extremely harmful. Tools can be used to build. They also can be used to destroy.

Some communities and religious authorities have tried to alleviate the problems involved with this medium. They have prohibited the personal use of computers and social media. Their intentions are good but they have kept their followers from utilizing an invaluable reference tool in today’s complicated world.

It is easy to place the finger of blame on the use of computers and social media. One must realize, however, that the finger is pointing to an inanimate object. Books, telephones, cameras and pen and paper are other items that can also be used in positive or negative ways. Will they be banned next?

Our biggest challenge stems from the greatest gift Hashem has given us: our free will. We need to use our tools wisely.

About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.


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